Here are five things worth knowing today:
1. The House and Senate are expected to go head to head over transportation spending. According to The Hill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to pass a six-year highway plan before Thursday to give the House time to take it up before the August recess. However, “House Republican leaders want the Senate to instead pass a five-month highway patch and won’t say whether they would give the Senate transportation bill a vote in their chamber,” The Hill reports. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the Senate bill would most likely not get a House vote and suggested merging both measures in a conference negotiation, according to the report. “That would require both chambers to pass a short-term patch to avoid highway shutdown in August,” The Hill said. Congress is working against a July 31 deadline to pass a measure before the Highway Trust Fund expires on Aug. 1.
2. Addressing the nation’s transportation problem, a USA Today editorial urges Congress to raise the gas tax. The 18.4-cent-per-gallon gas tax has not been raised since 1993. “Thanks to a worldwide oil glut, gas prices have dropped so far that Congress could quintuple the gas tax without pushing pump prices above where they were at this time last year,” according to USA Today. “Merely raising the tax to its 1993 level (a little more than 30 cents in today’s dollars) and indexing it for inflation would be a big start toward a major infrastructure upgrade.” USA Today has more.
3. According to FOX 13, the upcoming transportation bill could “mean trouble for the trucking industry.” The bill includes provisions such as lowering the minimum age of interstate drivers to 18 from 21, which concern lawmakers, according to the report. FOX 13 has more.
4. Hawaii’s Department of Health has fined the state’s Department of Education and various trucking companies for solid waste removal violations, KHON 2 reports. According to the health department, the violations occurred during the renovation of Radford High School’s track in December 2013 and January 2014, KHON said. DOE and the contractors are being fined a total $1.4 million – the DOE, MEI, ALU Transportation Services, Kua’ana Trucking, Xtreme Trucking, Alliance Trucking, Hawaiian Western Transport, and Thunder Trucking are being charged $1.12 million for allegedly disposing 103 truckloads of contaminated soil at a residential development under construction and for the disposal of 24 truckloads of concrete slabs at an unpermitted concrete recycling facility, according to the report.
5. Four American Trucking Assns. “road captains” spent Thursday morning at Tennant Truck Lines in Illinois educating motorists on how to safely pass a semitrailer, according to Dispatch/Argus QCOnline. ATA also provided ride-alongs as part of the association’s Share the Road event.